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HOME >> Product 0577 >> May You Meet A Stranger>>

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May You Meet A Stranger

Robert Cherny

On the verge of flunking out at the end of his junior year at the university, Teddy, a music student, returns home to spend the last few hours of his mother’s life with her and his family. He serenades her for that last night from the grand piano in their living room until she breathes her last. While the family is still together, he announces that he is not returning to school. After the funeral, the family disperses, leaving him alone with the piano.


A few days after the funeral, while Teddy is pouring his soul out to the piano, Samantha, a young woman who lives across the street and has listened to him play, enters the room and his life. They bond over the music, spending the rest of the day singing until Samantha’s sister and mother arrive. Music is the vehicle that brings them together. As the evening gives way to the night, the bond between Teddy and Samantha strengthens until it dominates their thoughts.

At the monthly 5k run and concert on the city park’s bandstand, they perform together for the first time in public the following weekend. Basing their performance on nursery rhymes, they enthrall the children in the audience. They are a smash hit with the adults as well.

The owner of the local ski resort, seeing them perform, asks them to substitute at his nightclub that evening for his DJ, who has called in sick. Teddy readily agrees. Part of the reason he is about to drop out of school is from spending too much time in his party band, working as a DJ, and working in a recording studio. The duo succeeds beyond their wildest expectations.

The following day, while practicing for their next performance, the studio manager where Teddy works when he is at school calls him in for a gig. After hearing Samantha sing into the phone, he demands that they both come to the studio to record even though she has no vocal training. Samantha is instantly adopted by the studio staff. After returning home, responding to the anger of the DJ whose shift they had taken and who legitimately saw them as a threat, Teddy suggests that they mount a battle of the DJs and use it as a promotion for the resort. Returning to the studio for another session, they find that the entire block where the studio is located is to be torn down as part of the construction for a new government center. Resolving to do something, although he has no idea what he can do, Teddy calls his recently widowed father, his brother, and sister for advice. This challenge breaks the father’s funk, and a plan is born.

The DJ battle, featuring three DJ duos coming in the height of the offseason in a town with only one live music venue, is a success. Flush with the success of the DJ battle, they think that they may be able to address the studio’s issue by relocating it to an unused building at the resort. No sooner than they feel that they have a viable plan, a lawsuit is filed against the resort. The suit seeks to use eminent domain on the resort’s most popular ski runs to build electric power-generating windmills.

Responding to the threat presented by the lawsuit, Teddy and the team he assembles to address the suit, launch a music charter magnet school, develop and enhance related tourist attractions, lay the groundwork for a massive solar power generating facility, and begin the conversion of an abandoned railyard. The railyard will become an intermodal transfer point and will be an economic engine for the community.

This is not to say that there is no time for love. Teddy’s father, sister, and brother all enter relationships, as do Samantha’s sister and recently divorced mother. The new couples explore their love together, guided by the pianist’s elderly mentor and his wife. They even rescue an engaged couple from a fight that could have split them up.





84591 Words





Cover Art:

T.L. Davison



Robert H. Cherny

ISBN Number:


Available Formats:

PDF; Microsoft Reader(LIT); Palm (PDB); Nook, Iphone, Ipad, Android (EPUB); Older Kindle (MOBI); Newer Kindle (AZW3);




TUNING A GRAND piano is a skill that can take years to master. Teddy unloaded his dorm room’s contents from his car and piled them under the antique concert grand piano that sat in the musty living room of the house where he had grown up. He pulled back the blinds, opened the windows, and tried to banish years of abandonment. He paused briefly to admire the dust motes dancing in the daylight streaming through the windows.

Teddy removed the grand piano’s cover and peered inside. The dust made him sneeze. He dug out the vacuum cleaner and went to work on the piano’s innards. He had never tuned a piano, let alone a grand piano, and had only a tenuous grip on the concepts involved. He had watched it being done enough to be confident that he would not damage the piano, but that was about as far as his confidence took him.

Music is math, and math is music. Teddy knew math, and he knew music. A 440 is A 440. 440 Hz. It has a known frequency. It is where piano tuners start. That much he knew. He placed his computer on the bench. He rummaged in the basement until he found a socket set. Teddy’s engineering student college roommate, who had played bass guitar in Teddy’s now-defunct party band, would be laughing at him right now. Teddy wiped the sweat off his hands and picked up the tools.

Before his mother’s illness, this piano had held the fractious family together. Time, distance, and disease had torn them apart. His mother had asked that she be allowed to die in this house. Teddy was the first to arrive. He knew he had three days to make the house habitable, but he was only concerned about the piano. It needed to sing his mother home.

Teddy opened the frequency analyzer program on his computer. He tapped the piano’s A key, the one that was supposed to be tuned to 440hz. A dull thud was the reward for his efforts. The felt pads were damaged.

He had anticipated that this might be an issue and had purchased felt at a music store. Not the right felt, but close. Teddy replaced the felt on the damaged keys and started again.

Tuning the piano took two long days, with Teddy only stopping for necessities. He worked slowly, perhaps even tentatively. When he thought he was done, he checked the pitch against his electronic keyboard. The keyboard had the same number of keys as the piano, but the comparison was not a simple as it might have appeared. After another night, Teddy was satisfied with the results. A professional tuner would have taken a few hours. Teddy had spent three days doing the job.

Teddy’s brother, Ben, arrived on the morning of the day the rest of the family was expected. He took one look at Teddy’s gear strewn in the living room and under the piano. Pointedly not asking for help and cursing at Teddy, Ben went back to his car and hauled in enough groceries for a week before disappearing into the kitchen. Teddy could hear him angrily preparing the food he had brought. Much of his rant was directed at Teddy, but that was no surprise. The animosity was justified. Ben had valid reasons to be angry with Teddy.

Teddy’s sister, Elaine, arrived in the mid-afternoon. She silently scowled and went upstairs to prepare to set up a bed in the dining room for their mother to spend her final hours in comfort. Her silent anger was in her face and in her motions, but it was no less intense than Ben’s. She, too, had reason to be angry with Teddy.

The medical transport van arrived at dusk. The attendants silently wheeled Teddy’s mother inside. Teddy’s father gingerly picked her up and placed her on the sofa across from the piano.

“Teddy, play me a love song.”

Teddy played well into the night. By morning, she was gone, never having tasted the food Ben had so carefully prepared nor rested on the bed Elaine had lovingly laid out for her. As the night wore on, Teddy felt the anger that his gift, offered with neither more nor less love than those of his brother and sister, was the only gift his mother wanted.




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 Mainstrean Novel, pianist, music, resort, bandstand, performance, studio, lawsuit, romance

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